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How an ‘unlikely mix of forces’ came together for marriage equality in NY

Sunday, June 26, 2011
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In a fascinating read, The New York Times details how an unlikely mix of forces came together over the past several weeks to bring marriage equality to the Empire State, and how, over time, championing same-sex marriage had become personal for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, on the Senate floor following the vote.


The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed.

But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition.

And it was about a Democratic governor, himself a Catholic, who used the force of his personality and relentlessly strategic mind to persuade conflicted lawmakers to take a historic leap.

“I can help you,” Mr. Cuomo assured them in dozens of telephone calls and meetings, at times pledging to deploy his record-high popularity across the state to protect them in their districts. “I am more of an asset than the vote will be a liability.”

[snip]

This time around, the lobbying had to be done the Cuomo way: with meticulous, top-down coordination. “I will be personally involved,” he said.

[snip]

Cuomo invited the Republicans to visit him at the governor’s residence, a 40-room Victorian mansion overlooking the Hudson River, just a few blocks from the Capitol.

There, in a speech the public would never hear, he offered his most direct and impassioned case for allowing gays to wed. Gay couples, he said, wanted recognition from the state that they were no different from the lawmakers in the room. “Their love is worth the same as your love,” Mr. Cuomo said, according to someone who heard him. “Their partnership is worth the same as your partnership. And they are equal in your eyes to you. That is the driving issue.”

Full story: The New York Times

The Marriage Equality Act was passed in the state Senate on Friday evening, and signed into law by Cuomo at 11:55 p.m. ET, less than 2 hours after the vote. The law takes effect in 30 days.

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